Christian Barmore followed a path similar to Quinnen Williams. He redshirted his first year, developed into a rotational guy his second year, and really exploded onto the scene his third year before declaring for the draft.
As a redshirt freshman in 2019, Barmore started displaying those flashes of talent. He started just one game, but he played in every game but the opener against Duke. In the 12 games he did play, he managed 26 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks while adding 5 quarterback hurries and 2 pass break-ups for good measure.
And Barmore got better and more productive as the season went on. The one game he started - against Western Carolina - he was named defensive player of the week by the coaching staff. He won it again the following week against Auburn. He earned Freshman All-SEC honors from the coaches.
Barmore did not become a full-time starter as a redshirt sophomore like Quinnen Williams did, but nobody will argue with the results. He started five total games, including the last four, and played in every game except the opener again. Barmore suffered a minor knee injury during fall camp in September that slowed him down a bit.
Over the first seven games, he had 2 sacks and 2 TFL. Over the final six games, he notched 6 sacks and 7 TFL. His 8 total sacks was good for first on the team and second in the SEC. His 9 TFL was good for third on the team and tied for sixth in the SEC. Barmore also had 6 QB hurries, 3 pass break-ups, and 3 forced fumbles. He was an easy first team All-SEC pick by both the coaches and the AP.
The standout performance in the second half of the season, as his knee healed and he played with more consistency, led to Barmore’s decision to enter the NFL draft.
Now, unlike Quinnen Williams, Barmore will not go #3 overall. He’s also not a lock for the first round. In a recent article in The Athletic, Bob McGinn wrote “Several teams expressed concerns about what they say is his resistance to coaching and structure at Alabama.”
The closest thing I recall to something like that report is this from 2019:
“The challenge for us has been to get him to do the things that he needs to do relative to the rest of the players on defense,” Saban said. “You can’t have guys that if they’re supposed to slant to the right, slant to the left. That’s when the ball goes out of the gate. And he’s learning that that’s a real critical part of what he needs to do to take the next step as a player, and we certainly need for him to do that. And we’re encouraged by the steps that he’s made to do that.
Maybe that stemmed from a “resistance to coaching.” Or maybe this is just standard draft leaks from teams hoping to drive value down on a particular player.
One huge advantage in Barmore’s favor is that he is pretty consistently considered the top guy in a relatively weak interior defensive line class. He has enormous upside; and he can provide a team with pass rush from the interior, a trait that is always valued. So even if some teams view him as a second round player, they may grab him in the first because of position scarcity.
Nick Saban is disputing the anonymous criticism that Barmore is resistant to coaching.
“We never had any issues here with him at all when it came to structure, whether it was football or academics,’’ Saban told Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. “He always worked hard in the offseason program and he did whatever everybody told him to do. We were very structured in regards to academics and he worked very hard at that.’’